Cold Takes

San Atlantis

(First published on 2/21/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more)

While I was supposed to be back in San Francisco today, Mother Nature got in the way. Since our city appears to be on the verge of turning into Atlantis, I’m still in New York — where it was 65 degrees and sunny this weekend. In February.

I feel like I talk about the weather here too often. In fact, I’m sure I do. 46 issues in, and still not quite in the groove in terms of how to write these blurbs. By issue 50, I hope to have it figured out 😜🌧


5ish Links

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Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

Since we are talking about the weather, here’s a harrowing tale for the future of Mexico City by Michael Kimmelman:

This is the first urban century in human history, the first time more people live in cities than don’t, with predictions that three-quarters of the global population will be urban by 2050. By that time, according to another study, there may be more than 700 million climate refugees on the move.

Not sure which of those tidbits is more shocking.

The problem is not simply that the aquifers are being depleted. Mexico City rests on a mix of clay lake beds and volcanic soil. Areas like downtown sit on clay. Other districts were built on volcanic fields.

The geographic layout of Mexico City also leads to awful smog, which I experience first-hand on a trip there a couple months back. All-around bad urban-planning (in an era before urban-planning, of course). It just seems like there are literal disasters waiting to happen in a few ways — and over 20 million people live there.


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4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump

A great long read by Dale Beran connecting the dots and drawing a path from 4chan to much of the nonsense currently surrounding Trump.


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How Sonos will take on Alexa and Google: by integrating them

Dieter Bohn sad down with new Sonos CEO Patrick Spence:

Bohn: So if you knew right away you wanted Alexa on Sonos, can you tell us why it hasn’t come out yet? What’s taking so long?
Spence: We’re doing it a little differently in terms of the way we approach it. Of course, we could have done it [on a different scale] and been off and running that way. But you know we think broader about the experience and what’s possible. We’re actually doing some work with them which is unique around the music experience that we’re creating. We believe that it’s worth investing that time and energy to create something a little bit more unique. Others will be able to use whatever we’re working with Amazon on, and they’ll be able to build on that. I think it’s really important we get that experience right, and that we are thinking about how we support a world where there are multiple voice services, too.

The last bit is the real interesting part. It would seem that a war is looming between devices that support Alexa versus Google Assistant (not to mention Cortana and maybe Siri, though you know Apple…). Both want to be ubiquitous, but will they play nicely with one another on the same devices? Seems unlikely… But Sonos is one of the few third-party companies in a position to at least try to make this a reality.


The Force

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The ‘Star Wars’ We’ll Never See

Scott Meslow:

But when it actually arrived, “Episode I… in 3D!” turned out to be a pretty tough sell. The movie grossed a disappointing $43 million — less than half of what a 3D rerelease of The Lion King had earned just a few months later. To fans who already knew they hated the prequels — and had seen them poison the well of the movie they did like — the idea of seeing Jar Jar Binks in 3D was like being invited to bend down and get a better whiff of an old turd by sticking your nose right up to it.

A pretty perfect way to put it. 💩


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The Gift Of Digital Face Recreation

Matt Grobar caught up with John Knoll, ILM’s Visual Effects Supervisor and Chief Creative Officer (he also happens to have co-created a little piece of software you may have heard of…). Of note, here’s Knoll regarding the digital recreation of actors on screen:

When you’re doing a historic figure, usually there’s some effort made to alter the appearance of the actor to look more like the person they’re playing, whether it’s just hair and makeup, or an extensive prosthetic type thing. So conceptually, doing a computer-generated face replace is the same thing that you’re doing when Anthony Hopkins plays Alfred Hitchcock, except instead of makeup, we’re altering his appearance with computer graphics.

I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I think that’s a fair point. To that end:

So that’s not going to get rid of actors anytime soon, because the acting has to come from somewhere. If anything, the way to think of it is, it’s a way for actors to play roles that they couldn’t play before, to extend their range in the kinds of roles they can do. I actually think it represents a lot of exciting possibilities for performers.

500ish Words

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Being Careful About Your Time

Learning from the master of protecting his time, Warren Buffett.


(First published on 2/21/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter)
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